VAN SCOY: Beware: It gets harder

Luci Van Scoy

The first week of classes can seem like a breeze. General-education classes consist of easy concepts and outlines, and even upper-level classes glide through the details. But as the realization of your responsibilities hits you, it can become pretty overwhelming. You can start to feel roped in and restricted, instead of enjoying the incredible amount of academic freedom that you’re privy to.

It starts with moving in. Whether you’re coming fresh or returning, moving can be stressful if you’ve been away all summer. There are the specific move – in days, meeting new roommates, making sure you have your meal plan, and figuring out the routes to new classes from your dorm or via the bus.

If you aren’t moving on campus, there are still greater problems to solve. Commuters, try to get here on time and find a place to park that isn’t ridiculously far away from where you need to be. It’s worse if you work while you’re a student – trying to find a schedule with your employer that lets you attend school and have drive time. Have kids? You’d better get on the phone and find child care.

The actual classes can start to make you anxious as well. The coursework seems pretty spread out until you realize that nobody ever stays on the syllabus, professors get sick, you have to work and get to other obligations – soon you’re making an increased effort to keep up without burning out.

Team that up with late financial aid that stops you from getting all your books for the assignments and the thought of those big projects that are going to sneak up on you before you know it.

Can you get all your required classes and prerequisites in and still have time for lunch? Try working it all out in your four-year plan. Not to mention the impromptu study groups and fieldwork exercises that’ll destroy your scheduled sleep-in weekends.

Everybody wants to do well academically, but there are also many more alluring prospects to dive back into. Parties, clubs and events on campus will distract you and make you question whether you really want to get up at 8 a.m. to learn about mitochondrial DNA. Especially when you’re up all night studying or catching up with friends in other places who you hardly get to see – oh, did someone mention sleep?

Give it a little time and your professors will bring up current events as examples in your classes, leaving you wondering when something happened and why you didn’t know about it.

College will suck all your brains out and spit it back at you in a jumble of unorganized information and priorities, while you try to put it all back into the right places – but it never stops trekking forward.

Every semester I learn the exact same thing: It all looks easy in the beginning, and then these many pieces will pile up in your head and start to freak you out. What usually happens is some kind of nervous breakdown a week or two before Dead Week during which I refuse to read or do any more homework, cruising on my impeccable attentiveness from the beginning of the semester to ride into a solidly mediocre GPA.

Instead of doing this, maybe it’s a better idea to give yourself a break from the start. We all start off with great expectations, day planner in one hand and assignment schedules in the other. But then life happens, and if you don’t give in a little bit, you might end up as a puddle on your bathroom floor – your body and brain liquified from all the effort.

So merge the two together in a nice way. If you have a break between classes or an early let-out that you didn’t expect, take some time to walk around campus and discover something new you’d never noticed before. Face it, there are buildings your studies will never lead you into – try going inside sometime to find neat things like a planetarium, a bug zoo or a greenhouse.

Every once in a while, when you see a group of people playing Frisbee or a free event happening on Central Campus, cut yourself loose and join in. Just make sure you make a buddy in each of your classes to copy notes from and don’t skip too often.

If you’re lucky, during your stay here you’ll find things you never expected. Sometimes taking the other road will lead to better opportunities and passions that would’ve otherwise been detained because of anxiety about missing an assignment or a class. If all else fails, you can visit the Study Abroad Center and make new and exciting things happen somewhere else.

That’s the attitude to have. You can do it all, and if you can’t do it right now, you will eventually. Just don’t forget about those neat opportunities when you find yourself caught up in your work or bored in your room.

After all – really, your education consists of much more than classes.

Luci Van Scoy is a junior in anthropology from Newton.